It happens almost every Spring. There’s something in the rarified air that whispers to me that it’s time to dust off the clubs and head out to a local golf course to test my limited skills in “the game.”
It has been my great pleasure, since my days in high school, to meet the challenges of the links of golf. Few times, if ever, have I achieved even a small degree of excellence in approaching the eighteen holes that comprise the “game.”For no more reason than wanting to beat myself up, I have returned throughout the years to test my clubs against the “shank”, “slice”, “missed putt” and “flubbed drive” ending in the drink even when the water was clearly not in my target area.
The “Game of Golf” to me was, and continues to be, a humbling experience. It has proven, more times than I could possibly count, that even though I might talk a decent game, I could not begin to achieve even a reasonable facsimile to back up the rhetoric. The “game” has shown that I can exaggerate with the best of them when called upon to do so! I always seemed to be at my best playing “customer golf” even when I wasn’t trying.
There was a time, when I was much younger, when less than one hundred strokes for eighteen holes, was achievable. In fact, my early range was relatively comfortable in the nineties. Once, I shot an eighty-six at a country club in Anderson, Indiana. If I had known that was to be the “high mark” in terms of a “low score”, I probably would have bought drinks for everyone in the club house. However, I was too young to realize that my future fame in the game had been achieved and it was going to be down-hill from that juncture on.
There were always the one or two shots on the course that forced me back for another stab at futility. I remember vividly playing in a tournament at the Elks Club in Indianapolis where my foursome started on the fifteenth hole. We turned the clubhouse corner, and I was one over par for four holes. One of the tournament directors took a look at our score card and pulled me aside to question my sizeable handicap. He obviously thought I was sandbagging. Another member of our group laughed and said, “Just wait! He’ll blow it very soon!” He was correct, on the very next hole, I shot a miserable “eight.” For the round, I barely broke a hundred. Even so, for just a few holes, visions of “Snead”, “Palmer” and “Chi Chi” danced through my limited vision.
As I was saying, there always seemed to be a couple of shots that would be memorable enough that they stood out from the miserable clutter to blot out the game as a whole. I still remember those special times with reverence, hope, and longing. Even though, I haven’t touch my clubs for almost four years, I still feel a twinge of excitement when I pass the closet where the “sticks” lie in- waiting collecting dust.
Today, I have come to the realization that my true golf calling is helping to conduct tournaments for charity; keeping score and selling mulligans; minding the “hole-in-one contests” and watching others trying to lower their scores.
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A nationally recognized speaker and writer, Norman Wilkens has traveled to forty-seven of the fifty states speaking on topics of marketing, advertising and public relations.
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